Younger generation in Beijing increasingly dependent on parents for housing, poll says

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 29 April, 2014, 6:22pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 April, 2014, 12:20pm

Soaring housing prices in Beijing have taken a heavy toll on the younger generation, forcing many to increasingly depend on their ageing parents for housing, a latest study has revealed.

Over 76 per cent of college graduates in employment under the age of 34 do not own their own house, with one in four of these living with their parents, according to a poll that surveyed more than 4,300 Beijing residents.

Three-quarters of those who own their own homes relied on financial help from their parents when they purchased the properties. Of those helped financially by parents, one-quarter had their homes paid entirely by their parents, said the study, which was published on Monday as part of the China Youth Development Report by the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing.

The findings of the study have shed light on how the post-1980 working generation struggle to find housing amid surging costs. Though their parents may have voluntarily assisted them, those young men and women dependent on financial help from their parents have been criticised as “sponging off parents”.

Furthermore, the economic background of parents is “playing a decisive role” in the housing condition of their children, as “support from parents is a crucial way to obtain a house,” the study said.

And those who rent homes pay on average a little less than 2,000 yuan (HK$2,514) in monthly rent, which is roughly 37 per cent of their income - a “relatively heavy financial burden on daily life,” the study concluded.

While most of the younger working generation have ended up living in houses available to rent by groups, or in cheap under-ground apartments, just 4.6 per cent live in public-rental houses set up by the Beijing government, showing that only a small number is benefitting from the government-subsidised housing scheme that aims to ease the housing burden of the city’s middle- and low-income residents.

The study also confirmed that the majority of young people place considerable value on housing. An overwhelming of 95 per cent of those interviewed, whether they were married or not, said that owning a house was closely related to their happiness. One-third of urban female residents said that owning a house was a “must-have” for a happy life, implying that home ownership by a partner was an important factor when considering marriage.

In response to rising housing prices exacerbated by speculation and investment-driven activities, the Beijing government issued policies several years ago to toughen up the requirements to buy houses using payment installations.

It also limited each Beijing permanent-resident family to owning no more than two houses (unless they had already owned multiple properties prior to the new measures) and allowed migrant families who had worked in Beijing for at least five years to buy one property.

But despite these measures, housing price have continued to climb in the past few years. According to the China Index Academy, an independent institute, the average price of houses in central Beijing topped 50,000 yuan (HK$62,900) per square metres last year, an increase of 28 per cent from the previous year and the highest housing price growth in China.